According to researchers at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif,  increasing the potency of botulinum neurotoxin treatments could allow patients to receive the injections less frequently, while maintaining or even enhancing its aesthetic benefits.

By injecting lower doses, researchers say the new approach could make the treatment safer, by reducing the risk of complications associated with immune system recognition that can sometimes occur with frequent injections. More potent doses may even lead to lower prices.

Kim Janda, PhD, a chemistry professor at Scripps and head of the research study, and his associates,  developed a synthetic molecule that can superactivate the neurotoxin used in botulinum toxin Type A by binding to specific sites on the neurotoxin protein. The synthetic molecule works by increasing the activity of an enzyme that cleaves proteins that are critical for neurotransmitter release, increasing the blockage of acetylcholine and enhancing its paralyzing effect. In laboratory studies, the researchers found that this superactivation could boost the activity of the toxin to as much as 14 times that of the untreated toxin.

The treatment has not yet been tested in humans or animals. If further studies prove successful, the technique could be available to consumers in 4 to 6 years.

[www.medicalnewstoday.com, April 9, 2006]